Just over a month ago, some friends and I went to Death Valley, taking what seemed like all the closed roads we could find. 2 SV650S and one SV650N (as well as a V-Strom, F800GS, and FZ6) went on the trip.
Day one, at 10am, we came across the reason why Coalinga Rd was closed:
Not to be shown up by our dual-sport brethren, we charged onward:
About an hour and a half after that, we found snow:
Day two was pretty uneventful, but my goodness this state is pretty. Day three was spent entirely in DV, and this place is beautiful beyond words. This was taken at Artists Palette:
Days four and five were spent coming home, but I haven't gone through the photos yet. The riding was too good—most of the pictures were taken from the bike, and they're all kinds of tilty. Total mileage was about 2800 miles.
If you're in the area (and even if you're not), you should visit. Doing it in April turned out to be a great idea, temperatures fluctuated between only 40° and 90°F depending mostly on your elevation (hottest at -200ft, coldest at 5700ft just before sunrise).
The paved roads that were open were great, even the snowy pass had no ice or other issues, and the roads that were gravel were easily tamed after getting used to never having any traction.
after carving up artist's palette, I stopped to get some pictures/video and let the bike cool off:
it's a rare shot of my own bike (I was busy taking pictures of other people), you can get an idea of the dust, grime, gravel, and water (and snow) we dealt with just from my hugger. I bought it thinking it would help keep things clean back there, turns out it's just for show. so if you're thinking of a hugger hoping it'll help keep things clean, don't bother. damn.
on a related note, the stock fender makes an enormous difference. the SVN that was with us came with an eliminator that the prevous owner put on, and his rear end was covered in dirt. if you're ever going to go off-pavement, keep your stock shovel!
since our lead was ex-Coast Guard, we were up every morning at 5 or so, and one of those mornings we decided to go from our campsite (200 feet below sea level) to the nearest peak (5700 feet above sea level). the temperature difference was 90° at the campsite to 40° (and WINDY) at the peak, but the roads were nice and boy, was it pretty:
I huddled over a JetBoil to make coffee (and try to warm my hands—it didn't work, that thing is really efficient about getting the heat where it belongs) and once caffeinated, took a small walk to the top. this place is so vast, it boggles the mind:
jumping around a bit, I remember a thread asking how people load their SVs for trips, so I pulled out this shot taken while I was waiting for everyone else to fill their tanks:
other than a Cortech 18L tank bag and the Cortech Sport Saddlebags (A+!) everything is stuff sacks and bungees. I brought my net along too, and wound up sticking my liners under it when the weather got hot (pictured!). I was carrying all my clothes and some food in the saddlebags, and the stuff sacks were sleeping arrangements for two, including a 5-person tent. it was like riding with a sail.
don't let the following set of pictures fool you, I didn't feel like having the camera out while the roads were fun, so you're going to see disproportionate number of straight lines.
every 50 miles was a different view. You've already seen your standard desert growth, plus the dry lake, but death valley also featured some dunes:
and Trona, which I have started calling "the happiest place on earth":
(or, in the words of a local gas station attendant: "you know what? fuck Trona", as if the whole town had taken turns kicking his dog)
on our way home, we got some of the obligatory flight line pictures:
It's not just Death Valley that's pretty either. On our way home we went through the central coast and, though I was tired of taking pictures by then, it was plenty scenic:
anyway, hope you enjoyed taking that little journey with me. here's one last shot of Surendra as we made our way home: